Address of General Fitzhugh Lee before
the Virginia Division, A.N.V. Association, October 29th, 1879.
Southern Historical Society Papers
Vol. VII. Richmond, Va., December, 1879. No. 12.
Mr. President, Comrades, and Ladies and Gentlemen:
The musical echoes of the horn of the Alpine Chief, winding from highest mountain top to lowermost valley, were as sacred in the ears of his followers as the mystic fire which burned in the temple of the Virgins of Vesta, and it's blast drew every man from his wife, his sweetheart and his fireside. So, an invitation to speak to this Association of the historic Army of Northern Virginia, should sound upon the ear of the Confederate soldier as a mandate from a band of brothers chained to him by the loving links of a mighty past, and whose future is indissolubly wrapped up with his in one common destiny -- for all time, for sunshine and for storms; irresistibly drawing him from all other obligations, it brings him, however unworthy, before you tonight, to discharge the duty assigned him by your partiality.
At your bidding, fellow soldiers, I strike the strings of the harp of Auld Lang Syne, whose notes now are chords of peace, while picturing, with poor brush, the camp fires of war. The ruddy glow will light up familiar scenes to you, because once again in imagination you will see the fiery hoof of battle plunged into the red earth of Virginia's soil. I approach it, as was said by the sage of Monticello, in his famous inaugural, "with those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire, and I humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking." Soldiers, your committee requested that I should present to your consideration, a field of conflict which brings before the military student as high a type of an offensive battle as ever adorned the pages of history. The military wisdom of those directing the tactical and strategical maneuvers upon the Confederate side, was equaled only by the valor of the troops entrusted with the execution. Aye, the heart of the Southron of today will beat with lofty pride, his cheek will mantle with crimson consciousness, and the eyes of his children's children, yet unborn, will flash with inherited fire, as is seen the splendid laurel wreath which fame hangs upon the Confederate colors, fluttering so victoriously to the breeze in those early days of May, 1863, when the "stem of the willow shoots out a green feather, and butter cups burn in the grass."
For giants were wrestling there, for victory upon the gory ground of Chancellorsville. To understand clearly the combination which resulted in this success to the Confederate arms, go over with me, as briefly as possible, the immediate preceding events.
When the sun of September 17th, 1862, with the mellow splendor of autumn, had gone down beneath the horizon, 35,000 Southern soldiers, living and dead, slept upon the field of Sharpsburg -- some waiting for tomorrow's conflict, others resting where they wearied, and lying where they fell. They had successfully withstood the assaults of the Federal army, numbering in actions according to McClellan's report, 87,164. On the 19th the Army of Northern Virginia recrossed the Potomac, and for weeks its encampments whitened the charming region of the lower Valley. Nineteen days after the battle, Mr. Lincoln, President of the United States, ordered McClellan to cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy or drive them south. On the 10th October, four days after the date of that order, the dashing commander of the Confederate horse, J.E.B. Stuart, led his cavalry back into Maryland, and riding around both flanks and rear, made a complete circuit of McClellan's army, possibly to inquire why Lincoln's orders were not obeyed.
McClellan reported Stuart's march. Halleck, then Commander in Chief at Washington, replies to him: "The President has read your telegram, and directs me to suggest that if the enemy had more occupation south of the river, his cavalry would not be likely to make raids north of it." On the 25th October, McClellan telegraphs that his "horses are broken down from fatigue and want of flesh." Lincoln rejoins: "Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything? Stuart's cavalry out marched ours, having certainly done more marked service in the Peninsula and every where since." On the 3d of November, twenty days after he had been ordered, McClellan finished crossing his army over the Potomac -- not in General Lee's front, but in Loudoun county -- carefully interposing the burly Blue Ridge between it and the Army of Northern Virginia, and securely holding the passes. Leaving Jackson in the lower Valley, General Lee quietly moved Longstreet and the cavalry up the Valley, and crossing them, at passes south of those held by McClellan, moved into Culpeper county, so that when the Federal commander reached Fauquier county the Rappahannock rolled once more peacefully between them. On the 7th of November, McClellan telegraphs: "I am now concentrating my troops in the direction of Warrenton." An order prepared two days before relieved him from the command of his army. The storm of official displeasure which had been growing deeper and blacker, had burst at last above the head of the young Napoleon, and the fury of the gale was destined to sweep him, who was once the idol of. the army and the people, from further participation in the struggle. Today the tempest tossed winds are quiet beneath the rays of the sun of peace, and as its Governor, McClellan's command is the State of New Jersey. Burnside was his successor. He decided to make a rapid march of his whole force upon Fredericksburg, making that the base of his operations, with Richmond as the objective point. On the 17th of November his advance, Sumner's column, 33,000 strong, arrived in front of Fredericksburg. Had his pontoons arrived, Burnside says, "Sumner would have crossed at once over a bridge in front of a city filled with families of Rebel officers and sympathizers of the Rebel cause, and garrisoned by a small squadron of cavalry and a battery of artillery." On the 15th, General Lee learned that transports and gunboats had arrived at Acquia creek. On the 18th Stuart, forcing his way across the Rappahannock at the Fauquier White Sulphur Springs, in the face of cavalry and artillery, made a reconnoissance as far as Warrenton, reaching there just after the rear of the Federal column had left. His report satisfied General Lee that the whole Federal army had gone to Fredericksburg. He had previously been informed as to Sumner's march. McLaws' and Ransom's divisions, accompanied by Lane's battery of artillery and W.H.F. Lee's brigade of cavalry, were at once put in motion for that place, and the whole of Longstreet's corps followed on the 19th. On the 21st Sumner summoned the town to surrender under a threat of cannonading it the next day. To this General Lee replied that the "Confederate forces would not use the place for military purposes, but its occupation by the enemy would be resisted," and directions were given for the removal of the women and children as rapidly as possible. The threatened bombardment did not take place; but in view of the imminence of a collision between the two armies, the inhabitants were advised to leave the city, and almost the entire population, without a murmur, abandoned their houses." History presents no instance of a people exhibiting a purer and more unselfish patriotism or a higher spirit of fortitude or courage than was evinced by the citizens of Fredericksburg. They cheerfully incurred great hardships and privations, and surrendered their homes and property to destruction rather than yield them into the hands of the enemy of their country."
While the poisoned cup was not passed around as at Capua before its inhabitants surrendered to Fulvius, they pledged their fortunes, their families and their household goods to the cause with the faith which characterized the Romans when they put up for sale the ground occupied by Hannibal's camps during his siege of the city, and it was bought at a price not at all below its value. The law passed at the instance of the Tribune Oppius forbade, in the dark days of Rome, any woman from wearing a gay colored dress, and that none should approach nearer than a mile of any city or town in a car drawn by horses, because the public need was so urgent that private expenses must be restrained by law so as to give more for defence. The women of Fredericksburg, equally as patriotic, obeyed "without a murmur," and bore their proportion of the burdens of the hour, for the confirmation of which they have the recorded words of Robert E. Lee. On the 22d November, one day after the demand for the surrender of Fredericksburg, Stonewall Jackson began his march from Winchester, and in eight days transferred his corps, with an interval of two days' rest, to the vicinity of Fredericksburg (Dabney, page 594).
The first of December found the Confederate army united. It was Burnside's intention to cross the Rappahannock at once upon the arrival of his army, but the delay in receiving his pontoons prevented the movement -- they did not reach him until the 22d or 23d of November. Could he have done so, Longstreet's corps only would have been in his front, as Jackson did not arrive until the 30th. It is certain, however, he would have encountered the united Confederate army somewhere, for General Lee was the commander of its detached parts. While the two armies are putting on the war paint, go with me to the spot where once stood the Philips' house. This elevated site was on the second and highest elevation from the river on the Stafford side, and was selected by Burnside for his headquarters during the battle of Fredericksburg. A magnificent view of all the surrounding country might here be seen through the field glasses of the Federal commander.
Descending the hill from the Philips' house en route to the river we reach the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac railroad, which, crossing the river by bridge, first curves westward before taking its northeasterly course to Acquia creek; then we come to a bottom through which flows a small stream; then we ascend the elevated tableland comprising the Lacy farm, and crossing it reach the Lacy house, Sumner's headquarters, and which is directly opposite Fredericksburg and on the hill above the river. The Rappahannock, drawing its sources from the Blue Ridge mountains, drains the counties of Fauquier, Rappahannock and Culpeper, while the Rapidan, its twin sister, flowing through Madison, Green and Orange, unites with it some twelve miles above Fredericksburg. From that point the river tranquilly meanders through a beautiful country until, passing between the counties of Lancaster and Middlesex, it is lost in the waters of the Chesapeake bay. It is navigable for steamboats and small sailing vessels ninety two miles from its mouth to Fredericksburg, the head of navigation.
There are two fords between the city and the junction of the Rapidan. Three miles above by the Spotsylvania side, or six by the Stafford side, is Banks' ford, and above that is the United States, or Mine, or Bark Mill ford. On the Rappahannock, above the union of the two streams, comes first Richards' ford, then Kelly's, which is some thirty miles from a point in Stafford opposite Fredericksburg -- this well known ford unites Morrisville and adjacent country in Fauquier to Culpeper. On the Rapidan above the junction, we have first Ely's ford, then the Germanna, then Mitchell's, Morton's, Raccoon, Summerville, Rapidan station or railroad bridge, where the Midland road crosses the Rapidan; all of which put the people of Culpeper and Orange in communication with each other. Above Fredericksburg the hills close in abruptly on the river, and continue more or less so all along the left or Stafford bank. On the right bank, beginning at Taylor's, above Fredericksburg, the hills, at first curving off from the river gradually, return in that direction, until at the distance of some four and a half miles from Fredericksburg, they gently decline into a series of soft waves of land, which terminate at the valley of Massaponnax. The rim of highland thus described, which begins at Taylor's and ends near Hamilton's crossing, is the shape of a half of a vast ellipse.
At a point opposite to the town it detaches from its front, as it were, an elevated plain. On the edge of this plain, nearest to Fredericksburg, is the famous Marye house and hill, and at its base runs the stone wall, apparently built to hold the parapet of made earth and prevent its being washed away. The convex side of this encircling rim of highland and the river enclose the plains of Fredericksburg -- an extensive piece of tableland two and one half miles across its greatest diameter. Hazel run, breaking between Marye's hill and Lee's hill (the latter so called because occupied by General Lee during the battle of Fredericksburg as headquarters), crosses the plain in its northerly course to the river. The Narrow Gauge railroad to Orange Courthouse and the Telegraph road to Spotsylvania Courthouse, twelve miles away to the south, take advantage of this opening to get through the hills. Lower down Deep run crosses the flats at its widest part, having drawn its source from the highlands; and still lower, beyond Hamilton's, flows into the river, a bolder stream than the other two, called the Massaponnax. On the eastern or lower side of the town debouches the River or Port Royal road, running parallel to the river. This road runs between earthen banks some three feet high, on which had been planted hedge rows of trees, principally cedar, whose roots held the ground firmly, making a low double rank of natural fortifications, some four and a half miles long, and affording an excellent place to align troops.
The railroad from Fredericksburg to Richmond, sixty one miles distant, crosses this plain transversely, running easterly until it reaches the hills at Hamilton's around whose base it curves upon its southerly course. From the side of the town next to Marye's hill proceeds the Old turnpike and the Plank road. At the limits of the town they are merged into one, which crosses Marye's hill some fifty yards north of the house, runs south to Salem church, six miles, where they separate, the Old turnpike being the right hand or more northern road. At Chancellorsville, twelve miles from Fredericksburg, they unite and continue the same road until Wilderness church is reached beyond -- when they again separate, the Plank road running as before to the south. The Wilderness tavern is some miles further on towards Orange Courthouse on the Old turnpike, and some miles further on this road is crossed by Wilderness run, and here comes in the road from Germanna ford, on the Rapidan. The direct road from Kelly's ford on the Rappahannock to Chancellorsville crosses the Rapidan at Ely's ford.
By keeping this imperfect topographical description in view, it will facilitate a better understanding of the strategical and tactical operations of the opposing armies; for participation in battles, unless as a commander of rank, will give but little knowledge of localities, such knowledge being in inverse ratio to the closeness of your discharge of military duties.
Before dawn on the 11th of December the Confederate signal gun announced that Burnside's army was in motion. Two days and two nights were consumed in getting the Federal soldiers over a river three hundred yards wide, spanned by four pontoon bridges, the laying down of which was resisted by the Thirteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Twenty first Mississippi regiments, comprising Barksdale's splendid brigade of McLaws' division, and the Third Georgia and Eighth Florida, of R.H. Anderson's division With these six small regiments Barksdale held the Federal army at the river bank for sixteen hours, giving the Confederate commander ample time to prepare for battle (Longstreet's report).
The Federal army was divided into three grand divisions, the right under Sumner, the centre under Hooker, the left under Franklin. Sixty thousand troops and one hundred and sixteen cannon were under Franklin, opposing our right near Hamilton's crossing; he having Burns' division from the Ninth corps, of Sumner's command, and two divisions of Stoneman's corps, of Hooker's. Sumner had about twenty seven thousand of his own and about twenty six thousand of Hooker's troops, with one hundred and four cannon (Hunt's report), attacking our right at Marye's hill, making a grand total that Burnside had of 113,000 (his report); he had also one hundred and fifty seven heavy guns in reserve. Burnside lost in killed, wounded and missing 12,353 (his report), and failing to dislodge the Confederate army, recrossed the river. The Army of Northern Virginia was divided into two corps, under Longstreet and Jackson. The official returns on the 10th of December, 1862, one day before Burnside's advance, showed present for duty 78,228 (Walter Taylor's Four Years with Lee). Jackson's corps lost in killed, wounded and missing 3,415 (his report). Longstreet's loss was 1,894 (his report), making a total of 5,309. The battle of Fredericksburg was a grand sight as Lee witnessed it from the centre of his lines, on that memorable 13th of December, and Burnside through his field glasses, from a more secure position two miles in rear of the battlefield, at the Philips' house, with the river flowing between himself and his troops. As the fog lifted it was like some grand drama disclosed by the curtain rolling up. The plain of Fredericksburg resembled the "field of the cloth of gold," where --
"The gilded parapets were crowned with faces, and the great tower filled with eyes up to the summit, To rain influence and to judge the prize."
The roar of three hundred cannon (the Federals alone had three hundred and seventy five in their army) formed the orchestra, the city of Fredericksburg their audience.
"Hark! as those smouldering piles with thunder fall, A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call. Earth shook, red meteors flashed along the sky, And conscious nature shuddered at the cry."
As I stood at one time during the day on Hood's lines and saw this gorgeous military pageant beneath me -- over one hundred thousand men in line of battle, a line of blue with bristling bayonets, both of whose flanks were visible -- it was the grandest sight my eyes ever rested upon; and in history I cannot recall its parallel. The Federal plan of battle was defective, so far as trying to force General Lee's left, for that was impregnable. Were it possible to have carried Marye's hill, no Federal force could have lived there, for a concentrated converging fire from the heights in rear which commanded it, and of which Marye's was simply an outpost, would have swept them from its face. Holding fast with a small force in Fredericksburg, protected by reserve artillery in Stafford, and reinforcing Franklin with the bulk of Sumner, and Hooker swinging around by his left to have threatened the Confederate line of communication, would have drawn General Lee away from Marye's and forced a battle on more equal terms as to position. The popular notion that General Jackson wanted to move down on the Federals after their repulse and drive them into the Rappahannock, is disposed of by his own report, in which he says: "The enemy making no forward movement, I determined, if prudent, to do so myself, but the first gun had hardly moved from the wood a hundred yards when the enemy's artillery reopened, and so completely swept our front as to satisfy me that the projected movement should be abandoned." With the Federal defeat all was quiet along the Rappahannock, both armies "seeking the seclusion that a cabin grants" in winter quarters. Two more attempts were made to cross the army over the river by General Burnside, one at a point opposite Seddon's house, some six or seven miles below Fredericksburg which President Lincoln stopped, because, as he said, no prominent officer in the command had any faith in it; and later a second attempt was made to cross above Falmouth. This movement was intended to flank Marye's hill by reaching the Plank road towards Salem church and beyond it. A glance at the topography of the country and the position of the Confederate army will show that such strategy possessed none of the elements of success. On the 25th of January an order from the War Department relieved Generals Burnside, Sumner and Franklin, his right and left grand division commanders, from duty, and placed Major General Hooker in command of the army. They were removed, the order states, at their own request. But Burnside (Report of Committee on Conduct of War, page 721) says the order did not express the facts in the case as far as he was concerned. The day after Hooker was placed in command he read the following letter from Mr. Lincoln:
Washington, D.C., January 26, 1863.
Major General Hooker:
General, -- I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons. And yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable if not an indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm. But I think that during General Burnside's command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong both to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard in such way as to believe it of your recently saying, that both the army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up as dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The Government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear the spirit you have aided to infuse into the army of criticizing their commander and withholding confidence from him will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it. And now, beware of rashness! beware of rashness! but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.
Yours, very truly,
The same day, in General Orders No. 1, Hooker assumed command, saying, among other things, "In equipment, intelligence and valor the enemy is our inferior. Let us never hesitate to give him battle wherever we can find him." Considering his enemy was in full view and there was no difficulty in finding him, his not attacking for over three months was a slight hesitation. Was it owing to their being inferior in equipment, in intelligence and valor? An interval of quiet now intervened, which was devoted to placing both armies in the best possible condition. Officers and privates amused themselves as best they could in passing the winter away. In the second Federal corps, for instance, we are told by its commander that the "higher officers spend their time in reading newspapers or books, playing cards, or the politician, drinking whiskey, and grumbling. Of course" (he says) "this charge does not include all by a long way, for it (viz: the corps) contains some of the finest officers that ever drew sword, from Major General down"; and then signs it D.N. Couch, Major General commanding. The monotony was occasionally relieved by cavalry reconnoissances, skirmishes and encounters.
One of these I shall mention briefly, because it was the hardest contested purely cavalry fight I participated in during the war, and because in it a young, rising and already celebrated artillerist closed a short but brilliant career.
In a dispatch to Halleck, Commander in Chief, dated March 16th, 6.30 P.M., Hooker says: "This morning I dispatched three thousand cavalry to attack and break up the cavalry camp of Fitzhugh Lee and Hampton in the vicinity of Culpeper" (page 799, Military Reports of Rebellion). Next, Butterfield, Chief of Staff to Hooker, in a dispatch to General Reynolds, of the First corps, gives the result: "I send you the following synopsis of Averell's affair. Captain Moore, of General Hooker's staff, who accompanied him, reports it as a brilliant and splendid fight -- the best cavalry fight of the war -- lasting five hours; charging and recharging on both sides; our men using their sabres handsomely, and with effect, driving the enemy three miles into cover of earthworks and heavy guns. Forces about equal." Stanton, Secretary of War, then telegraphs to Hooker: "I congratulate you upon the success of General Averell's expedition. It is good for the first lick. You have drawn the first blood, and I hope now soon to see the boys up and at them." It was Sir Walter Raleigh who said "that human testimony was so unreliable that no two men could see the same occurrence and give the same report of it." The official reports of Stuart and Fitzhugh Lee, written at the time, tell us that the fighting at Kelleysville, was done alone by a portion of Fitzhugh Lee's brigade, without any other support being nearer to them than the main army at Fredericksburg, and that Averell was driven back across the river defeated. The absence of four squadron on detached duty, and the detail of a large part of the command to go to their homes for fresh horses for the spring campaign, reduced the five regiments engaged to a total of less than 800 men in the saddle. The aggregate loss in men being 133, in horses 173. The latter is mentioned, because the ratio of horses killed to those wounded exceeded that of any cavalry engagement known to me. There were 71 horses killed, and 87 wounded, which, with 12 captured on picket, would make the 173. This fact shows the closeness of the contending forces. Stuart and Pelham, his Chief of Artillery, were accidentally at Culpeper Courthouse, in attendance on a court-martial as witnesses, their quarters being in rear of Fredericksburg. Pelham was in the act of getting on the cars to return to his camp, when, hearing there was a prospect for a fight, he borrowed a horse, and Stuart and himself joined me on the field, though the former did not assume command. Yes! Pelham fell at Kelleysville -- a blue eyed, light haired boy, a graduate of West Point of the class of 1861, and an officer of superb courage and dash.
A noble, young Alabamian, immortalized by Jackson saying, in substance, of his behavior in command of the guns on the left at Sharpsburg, that an army should have a Pelham on each flank. At Fredericksburg, General Lee calls him, in his official report, "the gallant Pelham," for with two guns, away out on the plains in front of Hamilton's crossing, he enfiladed the advancing Federal lines of battle, halted and held for a time Doubleday's division of the attacking column, sustaining, as General Lee says (in his official report), the fire of four batteries "with that unflinching courage that ever distinguished him." An old farmer in Maryland, looking at Pelham's beardless face, girlish smile and slender figure, said to General Stuart, "Can these boys fight?" Aye! let Lee and Jackson tell. Let Stuart's general orders, March 30th, 1863, speak: "The Major General Commanding approaches with reluctance the painful duty of announcing to the division its irreparable loss in the death of Major John Pelham, commanding the horse artillery. He fell mortally wounded in the battle of Kelleysville, March 17th, with the battle cry on his lips and the light of victory beaming from his eye. His eye had glanced on every battlefield of this army from the First Manassas to the moment of his death, and he was, with a single exception, a brilliant actor in them all. The memory of the gallant Pelham, his many virtues, his noble nature, his purity of character, is enshrined as a sacred legacy in the hearts of all who knew him." Young as he was, "his mourners were two hosts -- his friends and his foes." He was worthy to have his sword buried alongside of him, that no less worthy hand might ever wield it. An honor paid to chevalier Bayard by the Spanish General in Francis the First's fatal Italian campaign against Charles the Fifth. Sleep on, gallant Pelham, and may your spirit "look through the vista to the everlasting hills, bathed in eternal sunlight."
Spring had now arrived. "A thousand pearly drops, thrown by dewy morning into the valley's lap," could everywhere be seen. "And pushing the soil from her bonny pink shoulders, the clover glides forth to the world. Fresh mosses gleam in the gray, rugged boulders, with delicate May dew impearled. In the aisles of the orchard fair blossoms are drifting. The tulip's pale stalk from the garden is lifting a goblet of gems to the sun." Hooker must move now. On the 11th of April, he tells Lincoln that he "will have more chance of inflicting a heavier blow upon the enemy by turning his position to my right, and, if practicable, to sever his connection with Richmond, with my Dragoon force, and such light batteries as may be deemed advisable to send with them." On the 13th he orders his cavalry forward to cross the upper fords of the Rappahannock, and swing from there around to Lee's rear. On the 14th they appeared -- and made a dash at Kelley's ford; but, in the words of W.H.F. Lee's report, "dashed back again from the fire of the picket of one hundred and fifty men, under Captain Bolling, Company G, Ninth Virginia cavalry." On the same day they succeeded in crossing at Rappahannock station, but on the appearance of reinforcements, recrossed. On the 15th they crossed at Beverley's and Welford's fords, but were driven back by W.H.F. Lee with Chambliss' Thirteenth Virginia cavalry. At 10:15 P.M. that night, Mr. Lincoln telegraphed to Hooker:
"The rain and mud of course were to be calculated upon. General Stoneman is not moving rapidly enough to make the expedition come to anything. He has now been out three days, two of which were unusually fair weather, and all free from hindrance from the enemy, and yet he is not twenty five miles from where he started. To reach his point, he has still sixty to go. By arithmetic, how many days will it take him to do it? Write me often. I am very anxious."
Heavy rains stopped Stoneman, the Federal account tells us, and he was directed to remain on Hooker's right, threatening the upper fords. This cavalry force, according to the consolidated morning report of the Army of the Potomac for April 30th, 1863, had an aggregate of officers and men of 13,398 present for duty. His Chief Quartermaster, from Stoneman's new position, sent a return to army headquarters for rations for 12,000 men and 17,000 horses. This did not include a brigade of Pleasanton's division of three regiments and a battery under that officer left behind with Hooker.
The Federal army at this time consisted of seven corps, exclusive of the cavalry corps, viz: First, Reynolds; Second, Couch; Third, Sickles; Fifth, Meade; Sixth, Sedgwick; Eleventh, Howard, and Twelfth, Slocum with three divisions to the corps, except Slocum, who only had two, making twenty divisions. Stoneman's cavalry corps consisted of three divisions, under Pleasanton, Buford and Averell. General Hunt, as Chief of Artillery, had about three hundred and seventy five cannon. The Federal returns of April 30th, before mentioned, gives, under the head of present for duty, 130,260 enlisted men; an aggregate of officers and men of 138,378 present for duty, and a grand aggregate of 157,990 present; and under the head of present for duty equipped, there "is given only those who are actually available for the line of battle at the date of the report." We find a total of officers and men of 133,708.
On the Confederate side, the force operating at Chancellorsville consisted of McLaws' and Anderson's divisions of Longstreet's corps (Hood's and Pickett's divisions of that corps, under Longstreet, were in the vicinity of Suffolk, on the south side of James river), and Jackson's corps, of A.P. Hill's, Early's, D.H. Hill's under Rodes, and Trimble's under Colston, and two brigades of cavalry under W.H.F. Lee and Fitzhugh Lee. Hampton's brigade was absent, having been sent to the interior to recruit, and W.E. Jones was in the Valley. Present, then, we find six infantry divisions or twenty eight brigades, and the cavalry brigades of nine regiments. The official return of the Army of Northern Virginia nearest to the battle extant -- viz: 31st March, 1863 -- shows in Anderson's and McLaws' divisions, 15,649; in Jackson's corps, 33,333; in reserve artillery, 1,621. That return puts the cavalry at 6,509. My brigade numbered about 1,500 (it will be remembered at Kelleysville, two weeks before, it numbered 800) and W.H.F Lee's about 1,200, making 2,700 cavalry; and the discrepancy is accounted for by the fact that Hampton's and Jones' brigades were included in the return, because, though absent, they were included in the Army of Northern Virginia, and their returns sent to the Assistant Adjutant General at army headquarters.
Add 15,649, and 33,333, and 1,621, and 2,700 together and you have present at Chancellorsville a Confederate total of 53,303, with some 170 pieces of artillery. My numbers differ from Walter Taylor's 57,112 by 3,809, which is the difference between 6,509 cavalry he gives and 2,700, about the actual number present. Allan makes our force out 58,200. Now let us see what 133,708 fighting men in blue did with 53,303 "boys in gray."
It will be demonstrated that "the finest army on the planet," as Hooker termed it, "was like the waves of the ocean driven upon the beach by some unseen force, and whose white crests were so soon broken into glittering jewels on the sand." On the 21st April Hooker telegraphs to General Peck, who at Suffolk was growing impatient, hoping to be relieved from the pressure against him by Hooker's movements: "You must be patient with me; I must play with these devils before I can spring." On the 26th April orders were issued for the Eleventh and Twelfth corps to march at sun rise on the 27th for Kelly's ford, and to be encamped there on the 28th by 4 P.M. Stoneman's headquarters were then at Warrenton Junction. On 27th April, Lincoln, who knows something is going on, telegraphs at 3.30 P.M., "How does it look now?" Hooker replies: "I am not sufficiently advanced to give an opinion." On the 27th an order was sent to Couch, of the Second corps, to move two of his divisions to take post at United States ford, "the movement to be made quietly, and the officers and men to be restrained themselves." Troops to have eight days' rations. Bridge not to be laid at Banks' ford until the night of the 29th. On the 27th, the Fifth corps, Meade's, was moved to Hartwood church, and on the 28th to Kelly's ford. So much for the four corps and one division (Gibbons') that were moving up the river to cross and swing around on the Confederate left and rear. The remaining three corps -- viz: First, Third and Sixth -- were ordered to cross the river below Fredericksburg at the mouth of Deep run, "Franklin's old crossing," and at Pollock's mill creek -- the First and Sixth to be in position to cross on or before 3.30 A.M. of the 29th, and the Third on or before 4.30 A.M. of same day. These three corps were to constitute the left wing of the army -- were to hold and amuse General Lee and prevent him from observing the great flank movement of the right wing, and to pursue him, when maneuvered out of his entrenchments, by the approaching hosts on his left rear.
The aggregate present for duty on 30th April, 1863, in the First corps was 17,130; in Third, 17,859; in Sixth, 22,425; total, 57,414; or taking those actually in line of battle, the present for duty equipped, and we have First corps, 14,728; Third, 16,491; Sixth, 21,182; total, 52,401. Hooker's original left wing was about equal in numbers then to General Lee's whole army, and his right wing, or marching column, of four infantry corps and one cavalry corps, would represent his numerical advantage in strength.
On the 30th, the Third corps was ordered to move by the shortest road on Stafford side to United States ford and Chancellorsville; and at 8 A.M. on that day, Sedgwick was ordered to make a demonstration at Hamilton's crossing, to see whether the Confederates still hugged their defenses. On same day, Couch, of Second corps, was ordered to cross United States ford with two of his division -- the third, Gibbon's, being left at Falmouth. On the night of the 28th, Howard's Eleventh corps crossed Kelly's ford, a force being put over below the ford in boats, which moved up and took possession of it. On the morning of the 29th, the Twelfth and Fifth crossed. The force then over the river moved in two columns for the Rapidan -- the Eleventh and Twelfth, under Slocum, for Germanna ford, the Fifth for Ely's. Pleasanton, with one brigade of cavalry, accompanied the infantry. On the 28th, Hooker's headquarters were at Morrisville; on the night of the 30th they were established at Chancellorsville, while Butterfield, his Chief of Staff, was left at Falmouth as a sort of connecting link between the two wings, and for the purpose of sending dispatches around generally.
While these movements were in progress, what was General Lee doing? His army rested from the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg to Jackson's position at Moss Neck, fourteen miles below it. Anderson's division was on the extreme left -- Mahone's and Posey's brigades being near United States ford, and Wilcox's brigade was at Banks ford. Next to Anderson came McLaws' division; then Jackson's corps. The country between the Rappahannock and Rapidan was occupied by Fitzhugh Lee's brigade of cavalry and two regiments of W.H.F. Lee's -- the whole under Stuart, watching the fords of the upper Rappahannock. That stream protected Hooker's march up the river from view. Our pickets were not encountered until the night of 28th, when his advance crossed Kelly's ford.
The Confederate commander knew a movement was in progress. With the serenity of almost superhuman intelligence he waited for it to be developed before his plans were laid to counteract it, for he remembered the maxim of the great Napoleon, that when your enemy is making a mistake he must not be interrupted. His attention was first attracted by the enemy crossing in boats before light on the 29th, driving off the pickets and proceeding to lay down pontoons at two points -- one, as we have seen, below the mouth of Deep run, the other a mile below. A considerable force he saw was crossed during the day and massed out of sight under the high banks of the river. Early's division of Jackson's corps, which was near Hamilton's crossing, was at once moved by its alert commander into line on the railroad, the right at Hamilton's, the left on Deep run, occupying at the same time the River road in his front by three regiments, keeping the enemy from advancing to it (Early's report). The remainder of Jackson's corps was that day moved from its camps near Grace church and Moss Neck to Hamilton's -- Rodes, in command of D.H. Hill's division, going into line on Early's right, perpendicular to the railroad, and extending to Massaponnax creek. Ramseur's brigade occupied the south side of creek, guarding the ford near its mouth. Rode's line, under the superintendence of Colonels Thompson Brown and Tom Carter, was rapidly and strongly fortified. A.P. Hill's and Trimble's division, the latter under Colston, were formed in rear. And so General Lee waited.
Every country boasts its beautiful river, In France, the Seine, with its hills and valleys, forests and meadows, villages, towns and populous cities. In England, the Thames, with its green fields and quiet hamlets. In Austria, the beautiful blue Danube. In Russia, the frozen Neva. In Germany, the castle lined Rhine. In America the Hudson, the Potomac and the Father of Waters; and yet their beauty and sublimity did not equal the Rappahannock when spanned by pontoons, over which thousands of armed men were crossing, and whose clear surface was soon to be crimsoned by the blood of heroes wrestling for supremacy along its banks.
Hooker's advance, it will be remembered, crossed Kelly's ford, away up beyond General Lee's left, on the night of the 28th (Tuesday). Stuart received the information at 9 P.M. that night at Culpeper, and W.H.F. Lee, near Brandy, at once sent the Thirteenth Virginia cavalry to reinforce the pickets, and they checked the advance one mile from the ford. Orders were issued by Stuart that the enemy be enveloped with pickets; that his route from Kelly's might at once be ascertained, and that his whole cavalry force of seven regiments be thrown in his front to dispute his advance on daylight of the 29th.
On the 29th, the enemy not advancing towards the position of the cavalry between Brandy and Kelly's, Stuart knew he must be going elsewhere; so leaving one regiment, the Thirteenth Virginia, in position, he moved around with the remainder to get on the road from Kelly's to Germanna, and at Madden's, the intersection of the Stephensburg and Richards' ford with the Kelly's and Germanna road, he saw long columns of infantry marching for Germanna. His advance, Fitz. Lee's brigade, charged into the column, scattered it at the point struck, and the road they were marching on was temporarily seized and held. From prisoners taken it was ascertained that two corps were on that road and one on the Ely's Ford road, all marching on Chancellorsville. He at once informed General Lee by telegraph from Culpeper Courthouse of the fact. He had previously secured intelligence that a large body of the enemy were passing up the river; on the forenoon of the 29th that they had crossed at Kelly's, and later, on same day, that they were marching on Chancellorsville. After reaching that point he knew, too, the two wings of the Federal army were fourteen miles apart -- the distance from Chancellorsville to Deep run, below Fredericksburg -- and that his army was between them. "Beware of rashness," General Hooker. Some 50,000 "rebellious Rebels" have, by your own act, been placed between your two wings, and what is worse for you, they are commanded by Lee and Jackson. Oh! "beware of rashness." General Lee perfectly understood the military problem thus presented to him. Drive the wedge in and keep the two parts asunder. If possible, hold one part still by a feint, or, if necessary, retard its march by a fight. Concentrate upon and overwhelm the other. Sedgwick, in command of the troops in the Confederate front, lay quiet while Hooker was massing at Chancellorsville.
In a conversation with a Confederate officer at Lexington, on February 16, 1868, General Lee said, in regard to Chancellorsville, that "Jackson at first preferred to attack Sedgwick's force in the plain at Fredericksburg, but he told him he feared it was as impracticable as it was at the first battle of Fredericksburg. It was hard to get at the enemy and harder to get away if we drove him into the river." "But," said he to Jackson: "If you think it can be done, I will give orders for it." Jackson then asked to be allowed to examine the ground, and did so during the afternoon, and at night came to Lee and said he thought he (Lee) was right. "It would be inexpedient to attack there." "Move then," said Lee, "at dawn tomorrow (the 1st May) up to Anderson," who had been previously ordered to proceed towards Chancellorsville; "and the next time I saw Jackson," said General Lee, "was upon the next day, when he was on our skirmish line, driving in the enemy's skirmishers around Chancellorsville."
Let us follow the movements there first. Hooker, at Morrisville on the 28th, ordered his cavalry corps to cross the river that night or before 8 A.M. on the 29th, above Kelly's ford. A portion to move via Raccoon ford on the Rapidan to Louisa Courthouse, thence to the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac railroad, to operate upon Lee's communications. Another portion was to follow the Orange and Alexandria railroad up through Culpeper, to occupy the Confederate cavalry and to mask the movement. Stuart received orders to get in front, if possible, of the enemy moving towards Chancellorsville, delay him and protect the left of the army. He left W.H.F. Lee with two regiments, the Ninth and Tenth Virginia cavalry, about eight hundred troopers (the remaining two regiments of that brigade -- viz: the Second North Carolina and the Tenth Virginia -- being on detached duty) to contend, as best he could, with Stoneman's cavalry, numbering, by the return of April 30, 1863, an aggregate present for duty of 13,398, or "actually available for the line of battle," 11,079 -- and which force all crossed the river with Stoneman, except three regiments under Pleasanton, which were retained by Hooker for service with his army. Fitz. Lee's brigade alone accompanied Stuart. It crossed the Rapidan at Raccoon ford on the night of the 29th April, and moved down the Plank road towards Chancellorsville. Couriers were sent to Germanna and Ely's fords to notify the Confederate pickets of the enemy's approach. These couriers were captured, and hence the notice was not received by them. By the good management of Captain Collins, of the cavalry, the enemy's advance was checked for some time at Germanna, and his wagons and implements saved -- for he was fortifying it -- though some of his men were captured. At Wilderness tavern, the intersection of Stuart's route with the road from Germanna, the marching infantry column was again met, attacked and delayed. The Third Virginia cavalry was then in its front to check its march; but hearing that Meade, via Ely's ford, had already reached Chancellorsville, the march of the cavalry was directed to Todd's tavern, which was reached on the night of the 30th. Stuart, with his staff, then proceeded towards Fredericksburg, to report in person to General Lee, but had not gone a mile before he was confronted by the enemy's cavalry. He sent back for a regiment. The Fifth Virginia was sent, which attacked and routed the force in his front. Another body of the Federal cavalry then came up in rear of the Fifth, to whose assistance the remainder of Fitz. Lee's brigade marched; when, by a series of charges in the bright moonlight of that night, the enemy were defeated and scattered. This force proved to be the Sixth New York cavalry, under Lieutenant Colonel McVicar, who was returning from a reconnoissance made from Chancellorsville towards Spotsylvania Courthouse, and whose gallant commander was killed, for I know well he rode at the head of his men.
The Third and Fourth cavalry were placed on General Lee's right flank, as he was moving on Chancellorsville; the First, Second and Fifth Virginia on his left, and these five regiments, with a portion of the Fifteenth Virginia, did duty for the Army of Northern Virginia.
Military critics, in charging that Stuart was not in Hooker's front as he marched towards Chancellorsville, should recollect that Stoneman's cavalry corps, five times as great in numbers as Stuart's command, crossed on Hooker's right, and had to be watched and met.
At midnight on the 29th April, Anderson's division, moving under orders, reached Chancellorsville. Posey and Mahone of that command were already there, having been withdrawn from United States or Bark Mill ford. Early on the morning of the 30th, Anderson retired to the intersection of the Mine and Plank roads, near Tabernacle church, and began to entrench -- the Eighth Pennsylvania cavalry, Hooker's advance, skirmishing with his rear guard as he left Chancellorsville.
General Lee, having now decided to hold Sedgwick at arm's length while he hammered Hooker, entrusted the former duty to Early, giving him, in addition to his own division, Barksdale's brigade of McLaws' division and the reserve artillery under Pendleton. At midnight on the 30th, McLaws marched for Anderson, reaching him before sunrise on the 1st of May. At dawn, on May 1st, Jackson, too, marched for Anderson's position, reaching it at 8 A.M. At that hour he found Anderson entrenching along his line. Assuming command, Jackson ordered the work to be discontinued and the troops to be put in readiness to advance. At 11 A.M., Anderson moved out on the Plank road towards Chancellorsville, with the brigades of Wright and Posey leading, while McLaws marched on the Old turnpike, his advance being preceded by Mahone's brigade of Anderson's division, with Wilcox and Perry of the same division cooperating; while Jackson's corps, less Early's division, like the "Old Guard of Napoleon," followed Anderson. Alexander's battalion of artillery accompanied the advance.
Hooker concentrated on the 30th his right wing at Chancellorsville, and was in high spirits, for he issued then his General Order No. 47, which curiously reads thus: "It is with heartfelt satisfaction that the Commanding General announces to the army that the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must either ingloriously fly, or come out from behind his defences and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him. The operations of the Fifth, Eleventh and Twelfth corps have been a succession of splendid achievements." "Beware of rashness!" General Hooker; your troops have only done some marching without opposition, and while you write, your enemy is closing in upon you.
On May 1st. Hookers having been joined by Sickles' corps and the two divisions of Couch's corps, which had crossed at United States ford, determined to advance towards Fredericksburg with the purpose of driving his enemy away from Banks' ford, six miles below, in order to open a shorter and more direct communication with his left wing -- in ignorance of the objections General Lee had to such a movement, because it interfered with his plan to keep the wings apart. The Fifth corps was ordered down the River road, the Twelfth down the Plank road, with the Eleventh in its rear. A division and battery of the Second corps was sent to Todd's tavern, on the Spotsylvania Courthouse road from Chancellorsville. The other divisions and batteries to be massed near Chancellorsville; the Third corps to be massed on United States Ford road, about one mile from Chancellorsville, except one brigade and one battery at Dowdall's, on Plank road, west of Chancellorsville; Pleasanton's cavalry to be at Chancellorsville, and Hooker's headquarters were ordered to be established at Tabernacle church -- the movement to be completed by two o'clock. It was not completed. Indeed, as the head of the Twelfth corps, marching on the Plank road, emerged from the forest, they saw the Army of Northern Virginia advancing in line of battle. Then dropped, a little, Hooker's self confidence.
He says, fearing that he could not throw his troops through the forest fast enough, and apprehensive of being whipped in detail, he ordered his army to retire to their lines around Chancellorsville Changing at this point his "offensive strategy" to "defensive tactics" was fatal to him.
When Anderson met the enemy, Wright was ordered to turn his right with his brigade, and at Catherine furnace he had a sharp encounter with a portion of the Twelfth corps. Night stopped it, and at 10 P.M. Jackson ordered him back to the Plank road, along which Posey had, in the meantime, advanced to within a short distance of the enemy's entrenchments around Chancellorsville. McLaws had moved up the Old turnpike, Semmes' brigade on his left, and Mahone's, Wofford's and Perry's brigades of Anderson's division on his right, in the order named. Sykes' regulars were first met. They attacked Semmes, but were repulsed. Kershaw's brigade went to Semmes' support, but was not engaged. Wilcox, with his brigade, was ordered to the right, on Mine (or River) road, the cavalry having reported an advance there. Meade, it will be remembered, was on that road. McLaws continued to go forward, and halting at dark, bivouacked along the heights just beyond the point where the Mine road crosses the turnpike. General Lee's line of. battle was now within a mile of Chancellorsville, and close up to the enemy's entrenchments. Here, as he says, the enemy had "assumed a position of great natural strength, surrounded on all sides by a dense forest, filled with tangled undergrowth, in the midst of which breastworks of logs had been constructed with trees felled in front, so as to form an almost impenetrable abatis. His artillery swept the few narrow roads by which his position could be approached from the front, and commanded the adjacent works."
The left of Hooker's lines, extending from Chancellorsville to the Rappahannock, covered the United States ford, where, using a pontoon, he communicated with Sedgwick. From Chancellorsville, the right of his line ran at first in front of the Plank road, but was then retired, until it met again at Dowdall's or Melzei Chancellor's, the line forming the arc -- the road the chord. From Dowdall's the line ran west to Wilderness church. At that point separates the Plank road and Old turnpike, which from Chancellorsville had been the same road, the former being the most southerly one.
Hooker's line ran west from this point along the Old turnpike. His right was held by O.O. Howard's Eleventh corps -- two regiments and two companies of Colonel Van Gilsa's brigade of Deven's division occupying the extreme right, at right angles to the Old turnpike and to the west of the line running, in part, along it to the north of it, and facing west. Howard's report, which I quote partly to show the different nations the Southern people were fighting, says: "Schurz prolonged Deven's line eastward. He had three regiments of General Schimmelfennig's deployed and two in reserve; also two regiments of Colonel Kryzanowski brigade. General Steinwehr had two regiments of Colonel Bushbeck's and four guns of General Wiederich's were posted on Steinwehr's right."
Hooker's line of battle was in the shape of a V, well spread open at the ends, the apex being at Chancellorsville.
The problem presented to General Lee's mind on Friday night, May 1st, was to decide how best to attack Hooker's army on the morning of May 2d. Time was an important element; for near Fredericksburg, in his rear, was Sedgwick, largely outnumbering the Confederate force in his front under Early. During the afternoon, General Lee wished to attack from his right and cut Hooker off from United States ford, severing his communications with Sedgwick, and rode down himself and examined the lines all the way to the river, but found no place where he could do so. Returning at night, he found Jackson, and asked him if he knew of any place to attack. Jackson said, "No." Lee said, "Then we must get around on the Federal right." Jackson said he had been inquiring about roads by the furnace. Stuart came up then, and said he would go down to the furnace and see what he could learn about roads. He soon returned with Rev. Dr. B.T. Lacy, who said "a circuit could be made around by Wilderness tavern"; and a young man living in the county, and then in the cavalry, was sent for to act as guide.
Ah! what an earnest talk Lee and Jackson had on the night of May the 1st. At sunset they took their seats on a log on the right or north side of the Plank road, and a little distance in the woods. Colonel Marshall, the well known aide de camp of General Lee, was the only other person present, having been ordered to come to the spot for the purpose of writing a letter to Mr. Davis, dictated by General Lee. Marshall sat on the end of a fallen tree, within three feet of the two Generals, and heard every word that passed between them, and this is what he tells me Lee and Jackson talked about on that eventful night: "Jackson spoke to General Lee about what he had seen and heard during the advance, and commented upon the promptness with which the enemy had appeared to abandon his movement towards Fredericksburg when opposed, and the ease with which he had been driven back to Chancellorsville, and concluded by expressing the opinion very decidedly, and repeating it more than once, that the enemy would recross the Rappahannock before morning. He said, in substance, 'By tomorrow morning there will not be any of them this side of the river.' General Lee expressed the hope that General Jackson's expectations might be realized, but said 'he did not look for such a result; that he did not believe the enemy would abandon his attempt so easily,' and expressed his conviction that the main body of General Hooker's army was in his front, and that the real move was to be made from this direction, and not from Fredericksburg. On this point there was a great difference of opinion among our higher officers, and General Lee was the only one who seemed to have the absolute conviction that the real movement of the Federal army was the one he was then meeting. In this belief he never wavered from the first. After telling General Jackson that he hoped his opinion might be proved to be correct, General Lee added: 'But, General, we must get ready to attack the enemy, if we should find him here tomorrow, and you must make all arrangements to move around his right flank.' General Lee then took up the map, and pointed out to Jackson the general direction of his route by the Furnace and Brock roads. Some conversation took place as to the importance of endeavoring to conceal the movement from the enemy, and as to the existence of roads further to the enemy's right, by which General Jackson might pass so as not to be exposed to observation or attack. The general line of Jackson's route was pointed out, and the necessity of celerity and secrecy was enjoined upon him. The conversation was a lengthy one, and at the conclusion of it General Lee said to Jackson 'that before he moved in the morning, if he should have any doubt as to whether the enemy was still in position, he could send a couple of guns to a spot close by, and open fire on the enemy's position, which would speedily settle the question.' From the spot referred to, two of our guns had to be withdrawn that afternoon, as the infantry were suffering from the fire they were drawing from the enemy. General Jackson then withdrew, and General Lee dictated to Colonel Marshall a long letter to President Davis, giving him fully the situation. In it he regretted he would not have the assistance of Pickett's and Hood's divisions, but expressed his confidence in the good judgment that had withdrawn and kept them from him, and closed with the hope that, notwithstanding all our dangers and disadvantages, Providence would bless the efforts which he was sure his brave army would make to deserve success."
I give all this, in detail, to show the errors writers upon Chancellorsville have fallen into in reference to the ORIGIN of Jackson's famous flank movement.
And as settling the question as to who originated this movement, I give the following extract from a letter written by General Lee to Rev. Dr. A.T. Bledsoe, in reply to one from Dr. Bledsoe, in which he asked the direct question as to whether Jackson's move originated with himself or was suggested by General Lee:
Dr. A.T. Bledsoe, Lexington Va., October 28th, 1867.
Office "Southern Review," Baltimore, Md.:
My Dear Sir, -- . . . . . . . . . . In reply to your inquiry, I must acknowledge that I have not read the article on Chancellorsville in the last number of the Southern Review, nor have I read any of the books published on either side since the termination of hostilities. I have as yet felt no desire to revive my recollections of those events, and have been satisfied with the knowledge I possessed of what transpired. I have, however, learned from others that the various authors of the life of Jackson award to him the credit of the success gained by the Army of Northern Virginia where he was present, and describe the movements of his corps or command as independent of the general plan of operations, and undertaken at his own suggestion and upon his own responsibility. I have the greatest reluctance to do anything that might be considered as detracting from his well deserved fame, for I believe that no one was more convinced of his worth or appreciated him more highly, than myself; yet your knowledge of military affairs, if you have none of the events themselves, will teach you that this could not have been so. Every movement of an army must be well considered and properly ordered, and every one who knows General Jackson must know that he was too good a soldier to violate this fundamental military principle. In the operations around Chancellorsville, I overtook General Jackson, who had been placed in command of the advance as the skirmishers of the approaching armies met, advanced with the troops to the Federal line of defences, and was on the field until their whole army recrossed the Rappahannock. There is no question as to who was responsible for the operations of the Confederates, or to whom any failure would have been charged. What I have said is for your own information. With my best wishes for the success of the Southern Review and for your own welfare, in both of which I take a lively interest, I am, with great respect, your friend and servant,
R. E. Lee
In a little pine thicket close by the scene of this conference, General Lee and staff bivouacked that night. During the evening reports reached him from Early that all was quiet along the Rappahannock. Wilcox was ordered back to Banks' ford, in consequence of other rumors. Lee's orders had been issued, his plans digested -- his trusty Lieutenants were to carry them out; the Chieftain slept. Hooker at Chancellorsville, one and a half miles away, was, however, awake, for at 1:55, on the morning of the 2d of May, he dispatched to Butterfield, to order the pontoon bridges taken up below Fredericksburg and Reynolds' corps to march at once to his headquarters.
The morning of May the 2d, 1863, broke clear. General Lee emerged from the little thicket and stood on its edge at sunrise, erect and soldierly, to see Jackson's troops file by. They had bivouacked on his right, and were now commencing the flank movement. About half an hour after sunrise Jackson himself came riding along. When opposite to General Lee he drew rein and the two conversed for a few minutes. Jackson then started forward, pointing in the direction his troops were moving His face was a little flushed, Colonel Marshall says, as it was turned back towards General Lee, who nodded approval to what he had said.
The sun rose unclouded and brilliant, gilding the hilltops and penetrating the vapors of the Valley. Rising as gorgeous as did the "sun of Austerlitz," which produced such an impression upon the imagination of Napoleon. It should be remembered by the people of the South, for its rays fell upon the last meeting, in this world, of Lee and Jackson. The Duke of Wellington is reported to have said "a man of refined Christian sensibilities is totally unfit for the profession of a soldier," but here were two devoted Christians, who faithfully performed all their duties; and so they parted.
General Lee was to keep 14,000 men in front of Hooker's 73,124 while Jackson moved around his right flank with 26,000. I say 73,124, because the Fifth, Eleventh and Twelfth corps numbered, according to the return of April the 30th, an aggregate present for duty of 42,914; the Third, 18,986, and two divisions of the Second corps, 11,224. The total, then, would be 73,124 -- not including the three cavalry regiments under Pleasanton. The Second corps numbered 16,836; but Gibbon's division of that corps was with Sedgwick. Putting one third of the whole as Gibbon's strength, we would have 5,612 men, leaving 11,224 for the other two divisions. The First corps, Reynolds, was not then present, and is, therefore, not included. On the 2d of May, it was marching from Sedgwick to Hooker, but it did not get to him until daylight on the 3d. This corps numbered an aggregate present for duty on the 30th of April, 19,595. After its arrival, that portion of the Federal army in General Lee's front amounted to 92,719. The strategy of General Lee was bold but dangerous.
At the battle of Austerlitz, when the Russians made a flank movement upon Napoleon's right, he moved at once upon the weakened lines of the Allies in his front and pierced them; cutting the Russian army in two parts, leaving some battalions to hold the right wing, he wheeled the remainder upon the left wing, or flanking force, and destroyed it; then, turning towards the right wing, he directed upon it a terrible onset, and it too was no more. I am told that the men of Anderson, which was one of the two divisions left in Hooker's front, after Jackson's departure, and who formed a thin gray line tipped with steel, were about six feet apart. How long would it have taken 73,124 men to have pierced General Lee's centre? While the Commanding General is thus situated -- a condition which has Early's sincere sympathy, being in a similar situation in Sedgwick's front at Fredericksburg -- let us follow Jackson. Turning to the left upon the Plank road, near Aldrich's, he moved rapidly diagonally across Hooker's line of battle, screened from view by the forest and by Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry, which had been ordered to mask the movement, as well as to precede it. Birney of Sickles' corps, who with his division was wedged in between Howard's left and Slocum's right, on the crest of Scott's run as early as 8 A.M., reported to Sickles that a continuous column of infantry, trains and ambulances was passing his front towards the right. He ordered Clark's battery to go forward to a commanding eminence and fire into the column. At 12 M. Sickles ordered him to move forward, supported by Whipple's division and Barlow's brigade from Howard, pierce the column and gain the road they were moving over. This movement was reported to Hooker; he thought the Confederate army was in full retreat, and this is the explanation of his dispatch to Sedgwick on that day, ordering him to pursue the enemy on the Bowling Green road. It is dated at 4.10 P.M., and said: "We know the enemy is flying, trying to save his trains; two of Sickles' divisions are amongst them." Jackson, upon passing Catherine furnace, where a road came in from Sickles' line, a mile distant, directed Rodes to leave Colonel Best's Twenty third Georgia regiment there to guard it. It was these troops Sickles reports as having attacked and captured four hundred of them. Pleasanton was with Sickles, in command of the Sixth New York, Eighth and Seventeenth Pennsylvania cavalry. Colonel J. Thompson Brown, who had just passed this point with his battalion of artillery, halted, and at once put his guns in position. The two nearest brigades of Jackson's column -- Archer's and Thomas' of Hill's division -- supported him, and Sickles' advance was checked. They then renewed their march -- Anderson having replaced them by Posey's brigade, supported by Wright's. Sickles, however, gained the road Jackson was marching upon, and was promised the cooperation of Howard and Slocum in pursuing the flying Confederates.
Jackson was marching on. My cavalry was well in his front. Upon reaching the Plank road, some five miles west of Chancellorsville, my command was halted, and while waiting for Jackson to come up, I made a personal reconnoissance to locate the Federal right for Jackson's attack. With one staff officer, I rode across and beyond the Plank road, in the direction of the Old turnpike, pursuing a path through the woods, momentarily expecting to find evidence of the enemy's presence. Seeing a wooded hill in the distance, I determined, , if possible, to get upon its top, as it promised a view of the adjacent country. Cautiously I ascended its side, reaching the open spot upon its summit without molestation. What a sight presented itself before me! Below, and but a few hundred yards distant, ran the Federal line of battle. I was in rear of Howard's right. There were the line of defence, with abatis in front, and long lines of stacked arms in rear. Two cannon were visible in the part of the line seen. The soldiers were in groups in the rear, laughing, chatting, smoking, probably engaged, here and there, in games of cards, and other amusements indulged in while feeling safe and comfortable, awaiting orders. In rear of them were other parties driving up and butchering beeves. The remembrance of the scene is as clear as it was sixteen years ago. So impressed was I with my discovery, that I rode rapidly back to the point on the Plank road where I had left my cavalry, and back down the road Jackson was moving, until I met "Stonewall" himself "General," said I, "if you will ride with me, halting your column here, out of sight, I will show you the enemy's right, and you will perceive the great advantage of attacking down the Old turnpike instead of the Plank road, the enemy's lines being taken in reverse. Bring only one courier, as you will be in view from the top of the hill." Jackson assented, and I rapidly conducted him to the point of observation. There had been no change in the picture.
I only knew Jackson slightly. I watched him closely as he gazed upon Howard's troops. It was then about 2 P.M. His eyes burned with a brilliant glow, lighting up a sad face. His expression was one of intense interest, his face was colored slightly with the paint of approaching battle, and radiant at the success of his flank movement. Was he happy at the prospect of the "delightful excitement" -- terms, Dick Taylor says, he used to express his pleasure at being under fire? To the remarks made to him while the unconscious line of blue was pointed out, he did not reply once during the five minutes he was on the hill, and yet his lips were moving. From what I have read and heard of Jackson since that day, I know now what he was doing then. Oh! "beware of rashness," General Hooker. Stonewall Jackson is praying in full view and in rear of your right flank! While talking to the Great God of Battles, how could he hear what a poor cavalryman was saying. "Tell General Rodes," said he, suddenly whirling his horse towards the courier, "to move across the Old plank road; halt when he gets to the Old turnpike, and I will join him there." One more look upon the Federal lines, and then he rode rapidly down the hill, his arms flapping to the motion of his horse, over whose head it seemed, good rider as he was, he would certainly go. I expected to be told I had made a valuable personal reconnoissance -- saving the lives of many soldiers, and that Jackson was indebted to me to that amount at least. Perhaps I might have been a little chagrined at Jackson's silence, and hence commented inwardly and adversely upon his horsemanship. Alas! I had looked upon him for the last time.
While Jackson's column was moving to the Old turnpike, my cavalry, supported by the Stonewall brigade under Paxton, moved a short distance down the Plank road to mask the movement.
Rodes' division -- Jackson's advance -- reached the Old turnpike about three miles in rear of Chancellorsville, at 4 P.M. (General Lee's report). "As the different divisions arrived they were formed at right angles to the road" -- Rodes in front; Trimble's division under Colston, in the second line, two hundred yards in rear of Rodes, and A.P. Hill's division in the third line.
At 6 P.M., all being ready, Jackson ordered the advance. Howard, commanding Hooker's right, was at that moment at Dowdall's or Melzei Chancellor's, his headquarters. Carl Schurz was with him. Howard's right division was commanded by General Charles Devens. He reported the enemy's cavalry, with horse artillery, deployed in his front at 4 P.M.
Jackson's men burst with a cheer upon the startled enemy, and swept down in rear of Howard's line, capturing cannon before they could be turned upon them. Howard reports as the only fighting that parts of Schimmelfennig's and Krzyzancerski's brigades moved gradually back, keeping up a fire, and that "at the centre and near the Plank road there was a blind panic and a great confusion." Devens, the present Attorney General, fell back rapidly, very rapidly, upon Schurz, the present Secretary of the Interior, commanding the next division, and Hooker's right flank was yielded up by Howard. Sickles, while trying to cut off Jackson, came near being cut of himself. Pleasanton, who was with him; says he sent back the Eighth Pennsylvania cavalry, and hurled it at Jackson's corps, with heavy loss to them, but he gained fifteen minutes, which enabled him to put twenty two guns double shotted with canister in position before the Rebels came in sight, supporting them by two small squadrons of cavalry.
"In rear of the Eleventh corps the Rebels came on," says Pleasanton, "rapidly but now in silence, with that skill and adroitness they often display to gain their object. The only color visible was the American flag with the centre battalion. To clear up this doubt, my aid de camp, Lieutenant Thompson, First New York cavalry, rode to within one hundred yards of them, when they called out to him, 'We are friends! come on,' and he was induced to go fifty yards closer, when the whole line in a most dastardly manner opened on him with musketry, and dropped the American colors and displayed eight or ten Rebel battle flags. He escaped unhurt!" One of the most wonderful things of this most wonderful battle, is this statement that a mounted officer fifty yards from Rodes' line, should be fired at by the whole line and live to tell it!
In his official report Rodes says, "the enemy, being taken in flank and rear, did not wait for an attack." Colston's division followed so rapidly, that they went over the works at Melzei Chancellor's with Rodes' men. Both divisions entered together a second piece of woods, filled with abatis. It was then dark and the whole line was halted to reform. There was then no line of battle between our troops and Chancellorsville, says Rodes, and so the gallant Crutchfield opened his batteries upon that point. "The enemy instantly responded," Rodes continues, "with a terrific fire, which silenced our guns, but did little execution on the infantry." The fire was probably from the twenty two guns before mentioned. Hill then came up and his men were deployed in Rodes' front. At 9 P.M. Jackson ordered him to take charge of the pursuit (Hill's report). As soon as the fire from the enemy's artillery had ceased, Lane's brigade, Hill's advance, formed its line of battle -- the Thirty third North Carolina deployed in its front as skirmishers; the Seventh and Thirty seventh North Carolina on the right of the road; the Eighteenth and Twenty eighth North Carolina on the left. Jackson was eager to push forward to cut Hooker off from the fords of the Rappahannock. Hill came up, stopping a few feet in front of his line. Jackson was then in sight and both some paces in front of Hill.
Sending the only staff officer to Hill to tell him to move forward as soon as possible, Jackson rode slowly along the pike towards the enemy. Captain Wilbourn, of his Signal corps, was on his left side, two of the Signal corps just behind them, followed by couriers. Jackson was desirous of getting information useful to Hill's advance, thinking perhaps a skirmish line was still in his front. Jackson and his little party had ridden but a few rods, reaching a point near an old dismantled house to the right of the pike, when he was fired on by our troops to the right of the pike, the balls passing diagonally across -- one musket firing first, perhaps accidentally. Many of his escort and their horses were shot down by this fire. Jackson, Captain Wilbourn and the few who were not dismounted wheeled their horses to the left and galloped in the woods to get out of range, but were then fired on by the troops to the left of the road, when within thirty yards of the line, having been taken for a body of the enemy's cavalry. By this fire General Jackson was wounded. The troops near the road did not fire, because they knew Jackson had passed out. For the minute particulars of this sad calamity, I must refer you to Captain Wilbourn's account, quoted in an article by General Early in the December, 1878, number of the Southern Historical Papers, for now I adopt the words of General Lee, as in bed that night, resting on his elbow, he listened to Captain Wilbourn's report, he said: "Ah! Captain, don't let us say anything more about it; it is too painful to talk about." The enemy then opened a furious fire of shot, shell and canister, sweeping down the road and the woods upon each side. A.P. Hill and Colonel Crutchfield were disabled by this fire, and among others General Nicholls, of the Louisiana brigade, the present Governor of his State, had his left leg torn off by a shell. Rodes, next in rank, assumed command of the corps, but relinquished it to General Stuart, who had been sent for, because in his own modest words, he was "satisfied the good of the service demanded it."
"And shall Trelawney die! and shall Trelawney die!
Then thirty thousand Cornish boys shall know the reason why."
Stuart was near Ely's ford with the cavalry and the Sixteenth North Carolina infantry, having gone there after dark, to hold Averell still, who, having returned from his raid, was reported to be at that point. At 10:30 P.M., Captain Adams, of Hill's staff, summoned him to the command of Jackson's corps. Upon his arrival upon the battlefield, Jackson had been taken to the rear, but A.P. Hill, who was still there, turned over the command to him. With the assistance of Colonel E.P. Alexander, of the artillery, he was engaged all night in preparations for the morrow. At early dawn on the 3d, Stuart pressed the corps forward -- Hill's division in first line, Trimble's in second and Rodes' in rear. As the sun lifted the mist, the ridge to his right was found to be a commanding position for artillery. Quickly thirty pieces, under Colonels T.H. Carter and Hilary P. Jones, were firing from it. Their fire knocked a piece of the door or pillar of the apartment Hooker was occupying at Chancellorsville against him, and struck him down senseless. Pleasanton says, when he saw him about 10 A.M. that day, "he was lying on the ground, usually in a doze, except when I woke him up to attend to some important dispatch." Couch was then temporarily called to the command. Stuart pressed onward?. At one time his left was so strongly pressed that his three lines were merged into one while holding his position. He replied to a notice sent him that the men were out of ammunition, that they must hold their ground with the bayonet. About this time Stuart's right connected with Anderson's left, uniting thus the two wings of General Lee's army. He then massed infantry on his left, and at 8 A.M. stormed the enemy's works. Twice he was repulsed, but the third time Stuart placed himself on horseback at the head of the troops, and ordering the charge, carried and held them -- singing, with a ringing voice, "Old Joe Hooker, won't you come out of the Wilderness?" An eye witness says of him that he could not get rid of the impression that "Harry of Navarre" led the charge except that Stuart's plume was black, for everywhere the men "followed his feather."
Anderson gallantly moved direct upon Chancellorsville, while McLaws made a strong demonstration in his front. At 10 A.M. the position at Chancellorsville was won, and the enemy had withdrawn to a strong position near the Rappahannock.
Preparations were at once made to attack him again, when further operations were arrested by the intelligence received from Fredericksburg. It will be remembered that Sedgwick was originally left in front of Fredericksburg, with the First, Third and Sixth corps and one division of the Second corps. On the 30th of April at 12.30 P.M. Sickles left him. On the 2d of May the First corps was ordered away from him. Sedgwick was then left, Hooker says, with 32,420 men. By the returns of April 30th, the Sixth corps numbered an aggregate present for duty of 23,730. Giving Gibbon's division one third of the Second corps' strength (being three divisions to the corps) he would have 5,612 present for duty. Add that strength to that of the Sixth corps and you will have 29,342 for Sedgwick's total, exclusive of the reserve artillery. On May 2d,9.55 A.M., Hooker telegraphs him: "You are all right. You have but Early's division in your front; balance all up here." Opposing Sedgwick, Early had his division, numbering by the returns of April 20th -- the nearest one to the battle -- an aggregate of officers and men of 7,879. Deducting losses since the date of the returns, this division carried into action about 7,500 officers and men (Early's narrative). Barksdale's brigade numbered 1,500 in the aggregate (Early's narrative). It was under Early's command. The total infantry, officers and men, would be then 9,000, or a little over 8,000 muskets. In addition, Early had Andrews' battalion of artillery of twelve guns; Graham's, four guns; a Whitworth gun posted below the Massaponnax, and portions of Walton's, Cabell's and Cutt's battalions of artillery, under General Pendleton -- making in all some forty five or fifty guns (Early's narrative), a less number than Sedgwick and far inferior an weight of metal.
At 9 P.M. on the 2d, after Jackson's success, Hooker telegraphs Sedgwick to cross the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, and to move up the road to Chancellorsville until he connects with him, destroying Early in his front. He tells him then that he will probably fall upon the rear of the troops commanded by General Lee, and between Hooker and himself Lee must be used up. This order was issued under the impression Sedgwick was on the north side of the river, but it found him below Fredericksburg on the south side. The night was so bright Hooker says that staff officers could see to write their dispatches by moonlight. Gibbon, near Falmouth, was also ordered to cross the river on the night of the 2d. Sedgwick, Hooker tells us, did not obey the spirit of the order, and delayed too long. Warren told him that if he (Warren) had not been there, Sedgwick would not have moved at all. At 11 P.M. Sedgwick received this order to cross (Sedgwick's report). Being already over, he began to move by the flank up the Bowling Green road towards Fredericksburg, leaving one division in front of Early's right. About daylight he occupied the town. Gibbon crossed early on the 3d, and at 7 A.M. was formed on Sedgwick's right. In moving forward to turn our left he was stopped by the canal. Sedgwick then determined to assault Marye's and the contiguous hills, and did so. His right column under Colonel Spear, consisted of four regiments; his left of two regiments under Colonel Johns. Both columns, supported by four other regiments under Colonel Burnham, moved upon Marye's hill, while Howe's division advanced rapidly in three columns of assault on the left of Hazel run, upon Lee's hill. But what was Early doing? With his 9,000 infantry he occupied a line six miles long, from Hamilton's crossing to a point on the river above Fredericksburg. Sedgwick had, as stated before, 29,342 men. Add to that, four officers and an hundred men of cavalry, and thirty three officers, and 1,103 men of artillery, and his whole force amounted to 30,582. Barksdale held the left of Early's lines from Taylor's hill to the hill in rear of Howison's house. Early's division was on the right from Hamilton s to Deep run, while between Deep run and the right of Lee's hill only pickets were placed, protected by a cross fire of artillery. Early's general instructions were to retard the enemy's advance in any direction if he moved, or to keep him still if he would remain so, or to join the main army of General Lee in the event of the enemy withdrawing from his front. These instructions were repeated on the 2d instant, but by a misapprehension of the officer conveying them, Early was directed to move unconditionally to General Lee. Leaving Hays' brigade and one regiment of Barksdale's at Fredericksburg, and directing a part of Pendleton's reserve artillery to be sent to the rear, he began his march. The mistake being corrected, Early returned to his position. Hays' brigade had been sent to reinforce Barksdale, when Sedgwick occupied Fredericksburg, at dawn on the 3d.
When Early began to withdraw, Professor Lowe went up high in a balloon, but discovered nothing. To quote General Early, "Professor Lowe's balloon reconnoissance so signally failed on this occasion, and in the operations around Chancellorsville, that they were abandoned for the rest of the war, and our men were deprived of the benefit of these, to us, cheap and harmless exhibitions."
Soon after daylight Sedgwick moved against Marye's hill, but was repulsed by Barksdale's infantry and Pendleton's artillery. His force also endeavored to turn the left of Early's division, commanded by Hoke, up Deep run, but the demonstration was checked. An attempt was also made to turn our extreme left near Taylor's house; it was prevented by General Hays and the arrival of General Wilcox from Banks' ford. The enemy then advanced against Marye's and the hills to the right and left of it. Marye's hill was defended by one small regiment, three companies of another and four pieces of artillery (Barksdale's report). Sedgwick said he lost one thousand men in ten minutes there. Two assaults on Marye's hill were repulsed. A flag of truce was then sent by the enemy to obtain permission to provide for the wounded. The weakness of our lines was seen. A third assault was ordered, and was successful. We lost eight pieces of artillery upon that and the adjacent heights. Barksdale and Hays retired down the Telegraph road, and the enemy's advance was checked by Early, who sent three regiments of Gordon's brigade to reinforce them.
Wilcox threw himself in front of Sedgwick's advance up the Plank road, having with him about fifty cavalry, under Collins, and most gallantly disputed it -- falling back slowly until he reached Salem church, five miles from Fredericksburg. Lieutenant Pitzer, of Early's staff, who was on Lee's hill when it was carried, galloped at once to General Lee, and so informed him. McLaws, with his three brigades and one of Anderson's, was ordered to reinforce Wilcox, that Sedgwick might be kept off Lee's rear. Wilcox was found in line at Salem. Kershaw and Wofford were placed on his right; Semmes and Mahone on his left. The enemy then advanced in three lines, principally upon Wilcox. After a fierce struggle, they were repulsed and fled in confusion, pursued for nearly a mile by Wilcox and Semmes, until met by the enemy's reserve. They then retired to their former position.
McLaws communicated with Early that night, asking his plans. Early replied he proposed to attack in the morning and drive the enemy from Marye's and Lee's hills, extending his left so as to connect with McLaws' right, and asking his cooperation. That night he received a note from General McLaws assenting to the plan and containing General Lee's approval of it too. Early on the morning of the 4th, Early advanced along the Telegraph road, regaining Marye's and the adjacent hills, but he could not hear McLaws' guns. McLaws says in his report that he agreed to advance, provided Early would attack first, and did advance his right (Kershaw and Wofford to cooperate with him); but finding his force insufficient for a front attack, he withdrew to his lines of the previous evening. In the meantime, Early was informed that Anderson was coming and not to attack until he was in position, connecting with Early's left, when, at a signal to be given by firing three guns rapidly, Sedgwick was to be assaulted by Anderson McLaws and Early, under the immediate command of General Lee. Anderson reached Salem church about noon, but the attack did not begin until 6 P.M. -- owing, General Lee says, to the difficulty of getting the troops in position. Stuart, with Jackson's corps, was then left alone in Hooker's front. At 6 P.M. the signal was given. Anderson and Early moved forward at once in gallant style, driving Sedgwick across the Plank road in the direction of the Rappahannock. The approaching darkness, we are told by General Lee, prevented McLaws from perceiving the success of the attack, until the enemy began to cross the river below Banks' ford.
When the morning of the 5th dawned, Sedgwick "had made good his escape," and removed his bridges. Fredericksburg was also evacuated. Early, with Barksdale, was left to hold our lines as before, while Anderson and McLaws returned to Chancellorsville, which place they reached on the afternoon of the 5th in a violent thunder storm. At daylight on the 6th, these two divisions were ordered to assail the enemy's works in conjunction with Jackson's corps; but during the storm of the night before, Hooker retreated over the river.
The Confederate cavalry operations, from smallness of numbers, were much circumscribed. Hampton's brigade was south of the James river recruiting. Jones' brigade was in the Valley. Fitz. Lee's five regiments were divided - -two operating on General Lee's right, next to the Rappahannock, while the remaining three marched with Jackson, and afterwards were on the extreme left, near Ely's ford. Two regiments, under W.H.F. Lee, was all the cavalry Stoneman had to contend against. The horse artillery kept pace with the infantry. Stuart's report says they led the attack on the 3d.
The cavalry corps of the enemy, according to the returns of April 30th, had an aggregate present for duty of 13,398. Hooker says (Conduct of the War, volume I, page 136): "My cavalry force numbered upwards of 13,000 men for duty at the time the cavalry left camp at Falmouth, and of this force but one brigade was retained for duty with the infantry." They were to cross the Rappahannock on the 29th, the same day as the infantry; one column was to move round through Culpeper and Louisa, to operate on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac railroad on General Lee's line of communication. This column was under Stoneman and Buford. Another column was to threaten Culpeper and Gordonsville, then to follow and join Stoneman. Stoneman marched to Thompson's crossroads, and calling his regimental commanders together, tells them that "I have dropped in this region like a shell, and that I intended to burst it, expecting each piece or fragment to do as much harm and create as much terror as would result from sending the whole shell, and thus magnify our small force into overwhelming numbers"; and he further says: "The results of this plan satisfied my most sanguine expectations." But what does Hooker say? -- "On the 4th the cavalry column, under General Stoneman, returned. It is hardly necessary to say it accomplished nothing. One part of it, under Kilpatrick, crossed the Acquia and Richmond railroad, and the fact that on the 5th the cars carried the Rebel wounded and our prisoners over the road to Richmond, will show to what extent the enemy's communications had been interrupted, and an examination of the instructions General Stoneman received, in connection with the official report of his operations, fully sustains me in saying that no officer ever made a greater mistake in construing his orders, and no one ever accomplished less in so doing."
Averell, when starting with his column, was told by Hooker that "in the vicinity of Culpeper, you will be likely to come against Fitzhugh Lee's brigade of cavalry, consisting of about two thousand men, which it is expected you will be able to disperse and destroy without delay to your advance." Averell marched to Culpeper Courthouse on the 8th, then to the Rapidan, and says, "from prisoners taken and from contrabands, it was learned that at least two brigades of the enemy's cavalry were fleeing before us." All day May the 1st, W.H.F. Lee, with his two regiments and one piece of artillery, gallantly disputed his advance, and in compliance with the orders from General Lee, burnt the bridge over the Rapidan and withdrew towards Gordonsville. He reached that place at 11 A.M. on the 2d. At 6:30 A.M. on the same day, Averell, who never advanced closer than three miles of Orange Courthouse, countermarched and went back to the army. He arrived at 10:30 P.M. on the night of the 2d, on the north side of Ely's ford. Averell's losses, by his official report, were two officers and two men wounded and one man killed. He numbered, according to the same report, 3,400 sabres and six guns
W.H.F. Lee then turned his attention to Stoneman, who was about Trevylian's depot in Louisa county. On May the 3d and 4th, he pursued Wyndham's force, who represented the fragment of shell which was flying towards Columbia, and says he heard by telegrams from Richmond that the enemy were everywhere. On the 5th and 6th he harassed Stoneman's rear as he was returning to his army; on May the 8th he returned to Orange Courthouse, having accomplished as much as could possibly be expected with his small force. I leave my hearers to infer what Stuart would have done in the enemy's rear with ten or twelve thousand cavalry, only opposed by two regiments.
And so ended the last of the Federal operations at Chancellorsville. The total losses on the Federal side was 17,197 (Hooker, Conduct of War, volume I, page 143). Total loss on Confederate side was 10,281. Colonel Baldwin, Chief of Ordnance, reported thirteen cannon, 1,500 rounds of artillery ammunition, large lot of harness, wheels, &c., and 19,500 muskets and rifles and 300,000 rounds of infantry ammunition.
In an address of this sort it is impossible to do justice to the many splendid feats of valor performed by the troops. I must refer all to the official reports. They will show the difficulties and dangers which, under God's blessing, were surmounted by the valor and fortitude of our army.
The prominent points of this contest were: Jackson's fight of the 2d, Stuart's of the 3d, and the operations of Early and Barksdale, of Anderson, McLaws and Wilcox. In his official report, General Lee says that "the conduct of the troops cannot be too highly praised. Attacking largely superior numbers in strongly entrenched positions, their heroic courage overcame every obstacle of nature and of art, and achieved a triumph most honorable to our arms. I commend to the Department the brave officers and men mentioned by their superiors for extraordinary daring and merit, whose names I am unable to enumerate here; among them will be found some who have passed by a glorious death beyond the reach of praise, but the memory of whose virtues and devoted patriotism will ever be cherished by their grateful countrymen."
On 6th May, General Hooker published his General Order No. 49. Listen to portions of it: "The Major General Commanding tenders to this army his congratulations on its achievements of the last seven days. * * * In withdrawing from the south bank of the Rappahannock, before delivering a general battle to our adversaries, the army has given renewed evidence of its confidence in itself and its fidelity to the principles it represents. * * * Profoundly loyal and conscious of its strength, the army of the Potomac will give or decline battle whenever its interests or honor may demand. * * * The events of the last week may swell with pride the heart of every officer and soldier of this army." And then in a letter to Lincoln, dated May 13th, 1863, Hooker says, near its close, "Is it asking too much to inquire your opinion of my Order No. 49? If so do not answer me. Jackson is dead and Lee beats McClellan in his untruthful bulletins." I cannot find that Lincoln ever answered this question.
Aye, my comrades, the battle of Chancellorsville is over. "When written history shall truly record the struggle which ended thus, every leaf may be dripping with the tears of grief and woe, but not a page will be stained with a stigma of shame." It will show nowhere such an example of the steady handling of a small force against a great one, upon plans based upon a profound and accurate judgment of the facts. Risks were assumed apparently desperate, with cool self reliance and confidence in the army, that never faltered under all dangers and discouragements until all had been accomplished which, under the circumstances, could reasonably be expected. The laurel at Chancellorsville is entwined with the cypress. Brigadier General Paxton fell while leading his brigade with conspicuous courage in the assault of the 3d. Generals A.P. Hill, Nicholls, McGowan, Heth, Hoke and Pender were wounded, to which must be added many gallant officers and privates, while many more are now "but a handful of dust in the land of their choice. A name in song and story, and Fame to shout with her trumpet voice -- Dead -- dead on the field of glory."
Chancellorsville is inseparably connected in its glory and gloom with Stonewall Jackson. General Lee officially writes: "I do not propose to speak here of the character of this illustrious man, since removed from the scene of his eminent usefulness by the hand of an inscrutable but all wise Providence. I nevertheless desire to pay the tribute of my admiration to the matchless energy and skill that marked this last act of his life, forming, as it did, a worthy conclusion of that long series of splendid achievements which won for him the lasting gratitude and love of his country." In my reading of history, Jackson's purely military genius resembled more closely Caesar's and Napoleon's. Like the latter, his success must be attributed to the rapid audacity of his movements, and to his masterly control of the confidence and will of his men. He had the daring, temper and fiery spirit of Caesar in battle. Caesar fell at the base of Pompey's statue, which had been restored by his magnanimity, pierced by twenty three wounds at the hands of those he had done most for. Jackson fell at the hands of those who would have cheerfully joined their comrades upon many a valley, plain and mountain slope in the dismal, silent bivouacs, if his life could have been spared. Like the little child at the Chandler house, where Jackson breathed his last, who "wished that God would let her die in his stead, for then only her mother would cry; but if Jackson died, all the people of the country would cry." Sixteen years have passed. God grant that the little speaker then, the woman now, if alive, who wanted to die for Jackson, is beloved and happy! The character of Jackson's while being likened to the unswerving justice of an Aristides, had yet the grand virtues of a Cato. "Like the aurora borealis at an autumn's evening close" it will brightly shine in the sky of the future. For he was like Enoch, "A type of perfected humanity -- a man raised to heaven by pleasing God, while angels fell to earth by transgression." Immortal Jackson! though like leaves of autumn thy dead have lain, the --
"Southern heart is their funeral urn,
The Southern slogan their requiem stern."
Sacred Chancellorsville! The sun had gone down behind the hills, and the wind behind the clouds. It was --
"A night of storms, but not like those
That sweep the mountain's breast;
Not like the hurricane that blows
To break the ocean's rest.
It lightened, 'twas the sheeted flash
From serried ranks that new
It thundered, 'twas the cannon's crash,
That tore the forest through.
Oh! night of horrors, thou didst see
With all thy starry eyes,
The holocaust of victory,
A nation's sacrifice.
"Lo, prostrate on the field of strife,
The noble warrior fell,
Enriching with a martyr's life
The land he loved so well.
But round the martyred hero's form
A living rampart rose
To shield him from the hail and storm
Of his retreating foes.
And angels from the king of kings,
On holiest mission sped
To weave a canopy of wings
Around his sainted head."
Upon the occasion of Robert E. Lee's confirmation as a member of the church, Bishop Johns said to him: "If you will be as faithful a soldier of the cross as you have been of your country, when your warfare is over I shall covet your crown."
Rest on Stonewall -- faithful to cross and country, your warfare is over, your crown is won. Let us weep in darkness, but not weep for him
"Not for him who ascended Fame's ladder so high,
From the round at the top, he stepped off to the sky."
Deep in the affections of the Army of Northern Virginia, Jackson is buried. The mountains of old Rockbridge are the sentinels upon the watchtower.
Then striking the harp of his country, his soldier angels being the choir, may this Society join me as I sing --
"Go sleep, with the sunshine of fame on thy slumbers,"
'Till waked by some hand less unworthy than mine."
The above address of General Lee was delivered in the State capitol to a crowded audience, who greeted him with frequent and enthusiastically repeated applause.
General Early presided, in the absence of the President (General W.H.F. Lee) and all of the Vice Presidents of the Association.
The officers of last year, with the addition of General Bradley T. Johnson as one of the Vice Presidents, were unanimously reelected.
General Early presented a feeling and appropriate tribute to the memory of General John B. Hood, which was unanimously adopted, and ordered to be spread on the record.
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